The 2015 season is nearly upon us, and that means it's time to get things kicked off with this year's first edition of The Week Ahead! As is the case each season, this column will be dropping every Friday afternoon with a tiered list of two-start pitchers for the coming week, as well as suggested streamers (widely available pitchers with good match-ups worth picking up for a single start), total games for each team, injury updates and more.
The fantasy week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. Since the new season gets underway for most clubs this coming Monday, that means that nearly every two-start pitcher is an Opening Day starter. With that being the case, our usual tiers (Strong Plays, Decent Plays, At Your Own Risk) don’t apply as well, so for this first column we’ll simply separate these rotation fronters into two categories: The Great and The Good.
First, let’s go over a few names among the two-start crop that really stand out for one reason or another:
* Dallas Keuchel is largely flying under the radar despite blossoming as Houston's No. 1 starter last year, when he tossed a career-high 200 innings with a 2.93 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He lacks a dominating arsenal, so he might be in line for regression in a few areas, but he also should see more run support this year and that ought to help him build on last year's win total of 12. It will be interesting to see how he fares in Week One at home against the Indians and on the road against the Rangers.
* In many drafts, Josh Collmenter is going untouched, which makes sense because he was far from spectacular last year. He did, however, gain steam in the second half, posting a 2.25 ERA in the final two months, and he didn't allow a run all spring. Give him a look with two tilts at home.
* Nervous about Clay Buchholz? We can't blame you, coming off that mess of a 2014 campaign. But he has impressed at Red Sox camp, flashing improved velocity with a strong 22-to-4 K/BB ratio during exhibition play. Owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues, he merits consideration with a pair of road starts against iffy offenses.
* One guy who doesn't really fit into the "Great" or "Good" categories is Bartolo Colon, who gets the Opening Day nod for the Mets seemingly more out of respect than based on what he brings to the table at age 41. He's continued to be effective as he's aged, but we're not counting on him for much, especially with a tough slate in the opening week.
Corey Kluber: @HOU, DET
David Price: MIN, @CLE
Jered Weaver: @SEA, KC
Felix Hernandez: LAA, @OAK
Masahiro Tanaka: TOR, BOS
Sonny Gray: TEX, SEA
Chris Archer: BAL, @MIA
Chris Tillman: @TB, TOR
Clay Buchholz: @PHI, @NYY
Jeff Samardzija: @KC, MIN
Dallas Keuchel: CLE, @TEX
Yordano Ventura: CWS, @LAA
Phil Hughes: @DET, @CWS
Yovani Gallardo: @OAK, HOU
Colby Lewis: @OAK, HOU
Drew Hutchison: @NYY, @BAL
Max Scherzer: NYM, @PHI
Clayton Kershaw: SD, @ARI
Julio Teheran: @MIA, NYM
Madison Bumgarner @ARI, @SD
Johnny Cueto: PIT, STL
Francisco Liriano: @CIN, @MIL
James Shields: @LAD, SF
Tyson Ross: @LAD, SF
Josh Collmenter: SF, LAD
Cole Hamels: BOS, WAS
Kyle Kendrick: @MIL, CHC
Henderson Alvarez: ATL, TB
Kyle Lohse: COL, PIT
Bartolo Colon: @WAS, @ATL
The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:
Thursday, April 9: Edinson Volquez vs. CWS
The 31-year-old will be hard-pressed to replicate his 2014 season, but he'll start his Royals career with a home match-up against a White Sox lineup carrying plenty of question marks.
Friday, April 10: Nathan Eovaldi vs. BOS
The righty could prove to be a very good find for the Yankees. He's always had intriguing stuff, and posted a 14/0 K/BB ratio over 13 2/3 innings in the Grapefruit League.
Friday, April 10: Kyle Gibson @ CWS
I view Gibson as a nice breakout candidate this year. He's coming off a nice spring and should induce plenty of grounders and strikeouts against the Sox.
Wednesday, April 8: Jason Hammel vs. STL
The veteran right-hander is available in roughly half of all leagues despite coming off one of the best seasons of his career. As long as he keeps the ball in the yard, which he's typically been able to do at Wrigley, he should be fine.
Friday, April 10: Dan Haren vs. TB
Haren is a bit of a wild card this season, but he consistently puts up great K/BB ratios and he should be able to handle this Rays lineup at home.
Friday, April 10: Anthony DeSclafani vs. STL
Last year's bloated 6.27 ERA belied his solid peripherals and strong work in the minors. We expect DeSclafani to take a step forward, and it could start here.
6: BAL, BOS, CLE, CWS, DET, HOU, KC, LAA, MIN, NYY, SEA, TB, TOR
7: OAK, TEX
6: ARI, ATL, CIN, COL, LAD, MIA, MIL, NYM, PHI, PIT, STL, WAS
7: SD, SF